The Local Dog Breeder, Reinterpreted

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Well raised pups make the best pets

I wrote this article ( The Local Dog Breeder, Reinterpreted) for the most recent Australian Shepherd Journal. I’m posting it here for anyone who is interested. It essentially synopsizes my thinking about how hobby breeders can be an even more potent force at helping to keep shelter numbers down…

The following are some quotes from the article.

We have an image problem. The purebred dog and its breeders are in trouble. Animal rights activists, in their purported efforts to reduce the numbers of dogs in shelters, are pointing an accusatory finger at all purebred dog breeders. They make no distinction between mass producers, backyard operations and hobby breeders. They are waging a war for the hearts and minds of the public and gaining ground each year…

…in spite of all the energy, time, money and commitment the majority of us hobby breeders put into doing this breeding thing the right way, the public’s perception of us continues to erode. We are increasingly being painted with the same brush as puppy mills and the likes of Michael Vick. We are alternately puppy factories and dog show snobs…

…The propaganda has worked its magic on us as well as the public. We have internalized the notion that reputable breeders do not breed pets and our message to the public often reflects that. Our blame lies only in having allowed unscrupulous breeders to dominate the pet market. Imagining we are doing the right thing, we have actually stepped away from being part of the solution…

…Historically hesitant to market ourselves as professionals in the area of pet breeding, we fear being seen as “in it just for the money.” Stepping away from this responsibility is not a principled answer. This is a stretch for most of us, allergic as we are to the idea of breeding pets in any deliberate way. We cringe at the very suggestion that we focus our breeding programs on the pet market, but we must. We owe it to the dogs. They deserve to be born and raised in capable, humane hands…

…If we can harness just some of the ribbon chasing determination of thousands of highly motivated, educated, ethical breeders and redirect it towards chasing accolades for accomplishments that would benefit the pet market, we would have an inextinguishable force that redefines pet breeding and helps keep dogs out of shelters at the same time…

Read the complete Local Dog article here.

Rescue and the Spigot

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Just want to say this now, before we get too far into this discussion – I am not a purebred, bought from a breeder snob. I have spent my whole professional life working with the owners of all sorts of dogs and although I happen to be smitten with the  purebreds I breed, I do not believe (other than some level of predictability) they make any better or worse pets than crossbred dogs. I am not, by any stretch, anti rescue. I think homeless animals need to be rescued, but I do not think rescue efforts alone can turn off the spigot that keeps filling shelters.

As dedicated, ethical breeders, I do believe that we can help to reduce the flow on that spigot, by carefully placing dogs, offering support and providing a safety net for the dogs that we breed. Most of us already do a pretty good job of that, but I think we can do it even better. We have a responsibility to do so. It’s like rescue from the other end – prevention.

I don’t have the answers, just some ideas that I know will take quite a bit of fleshing out and tweaking before we know if they are even implementable. More next time…